Unforced Variations; June 2012

This month’s open thread…

408 comments on this post.
  1. oarobin:

    thanks for the comment. i have indeed been reading blogs (several sites not just this one) and the peered review literature trying extend my understanding of paleo-climate reconstruction. the gap between the two is the genesis of the request.

    there is an intermediate level of complexity that doesn’t get covered in either blog posts or the literature(because they are either too specific or just too general) that discusses motivations, aims, assumptions, methods, interpretations etc of the field; giving a big picture overview of the research for those science enthusiast who want to dig a little deeper in the details and understand current research.

    ideally this should be covered in a introductory textbook
    but i cannot find any that covers this material.

  2. Steve Bloom:

    oarobin, if you want the views of the field, probably the PAGES newsletter is a good place to start, plus of course look for review articles. In not too many more months you’ll be able to read the AR5 paleo chapter.

    Good luck with the motivations and aims business (other than the obvious, which is to do useful and if possible ground-breaking science). Re methods, it’s true that descriptions in papers are a little heavy going at the detail level, but if as you say you’re looking for a more general understanding you can just skip trying to understand all the details. The web sites of many scientists also include plain-language descriptions of their research, public copies of papers, useful links, etc. (example I was just looking at), so don’t forget those.

  3. simon abingdon:

    I have just read Robert Brown’s latest post (June 24 2012 at 10.30 pm) on WUWT.
    I find its manifest evenhandedness and apparently convincing objectivity quite compelling. Would it be too much to ask the RC cognoscenti to give us their informed appraisal of it?

    [Response: A mounting of a high horse in order to tilt at strawmen arguments that segues into the fallacy of ‘we don’t know everything and so we know nothing’ and ends with a stream of righteous indignation that anyone would call this kind of reasoning out for what it is. Rhetorically smooth, scientifically bogus. – gavin]

  4. simon abingdon:

    #303 [gavin’s response]

    Thanks for the response gavin. Shame you didn’t even hint at how Dr Brown is “scientifically bogus”. Seems he’s making quite a good job of disabusing those who think that the GHE doesn’t exist. You could at least applaud that.

    [Response: You asked for comments on his post, not on his thoughts about the GHE. His post was full of fallacies, and just because he understands the GHE (which of course is a plus), he doesn’t get a ‘get-out-of-logic-free’ card. Sorry. – gavin]

  5. Ray Ladbury:

    Mon Dieu! We are coming up on a landmark–the 1000th Borehole post! Less than 50 to go at this point, and depending on the news and the activity over at WTFUWT, we should see number 1000 within 2-5 weeks. We should really plan something special for the lucky boreholer! Or maybe we could start a pool for who it will be. My money’s on Dan H., but there are lots of other strong competitors.

    And the best thing about the borehole–you can keep up with the idiocy at WTFUWT and other denialist sites without giving them any more hits!

  6. MARodger:

    simon abingdon @303
    You talk of “manifest evenhandedness and apparently convincing objectivity” making me wonder whether you and I refer to the same piece of WUWT nonsense.

    Watts says of it “I would say, it is likely the best response I’ve ever seen on the use of the “denier” term, not to mention the CAGW issue in general.” showing that Watts has remarkably limited vision.
    Okay this Dr. Robert G. Brown writes 2,400 words. If he’d used less (200 would do), perhaps his silliness would be more obvious. (To be doubly sure, I add occasional annotation in parenthesis to a full summary of his “objectivity.”)

    Brown is saying that he dislikes the term “denier” because of the Holocaust connotations. He says he is but “highly skeptical” about CAGW although he sees honest grounds to doubt even AGW. (So still skeptical about AGW, just not so “highly”.) And any detractor of his ilk has no idea of his competence or strength of argument. (Happily he does provide it here.) The term “denier” moves the entire discussion outside of science and avoids confronting the true issue. (Certainly something has done this.)
    Today’s temperature rise is nothing remarkable on a billion year timescale and is unresolvable from the natural variation, especially when the LIA & MWP are revived as they should be. (Hey! That makes him a LIAR. And a MWPR.) Earth is bistable, warm or cold. There is no tipping point except into the next ice age which will kill billions. (By the end of the century?!) We don’t even understand ice ages. Our climate theories aren’t particularly successful. GCMs are no more than children’s toys. They didn’t predict the flat global temperatures of late, a flat which continues and should be lowering projected climate sensitivity & AGW. This is good reason to be skeptical of CAGW.
    Remember Feyman’s ‘cargo cult’ talk? Remember hockeysticks? Climategate? Concealing scientific information is dishonest. Before the hockeystick CAGW was totally unconvincing. We skeptics recognise the true degree of our ignorance.

  7. J Bowers:

    Polling indicates belief in climate change has risen – so why does the Sunday Times describe it as ‘cooling off’?

    In its report on the survey, rather than comparing climate change belief with statistics from 2008 as the Sunday Times has done, pollsters YouGov compare the results with the last time they asked the questions in 2010.

    The comparison actually shows that more people now think the world is warming because of human activity than in 2010. (4% more). Slightly more people also think that the world is becoming warmer – but not because of human activity (2% more). Compared to 2010, slightly fewer people think that the world is not warming (3% less).

    Perhaps the most obvious story that could have been written from these results is ‘Belief in climate change rises’.

    Ohhhhh, you just gotta love a blagger….

  8. simon abingdon:

    #305 MARodger As Dr Robert Brown himself says (WUWT June 24 2012 at 8.44 am)

    “But maybe, possibly, perhaps, you could entertain the notion that somebody that spent 9 years of their life doing nothing but studying mathematics, physics, computer science, and statistics (well, and partying like a wild animal) and then spent the next 30 years working with mathematics, physics, computation and statistics doing research, writing papers, teaching graduate and undergraduates, writing textbooks, that sort of thing might not be a complete idiot. Certainly not so much of an idiot that you are likely to know more, better, more competently, unless and until you have spent at least half as long doing half as much. D’ya think?”

    [Response: I thought that ‘argument by authority’ was a big no-no? Or is that only when someone else uses it? – gavin]

  9. simon abingdon:

    #308 [gavin’s response] This had nothing whatsoever to do with “argument from authority”. Dr Brown’s words brought MARodger to mind, that’s all.

    [Response: Sorry, but your quote was a classic argument from authority – ‘how dare we question his argument if we haven’t spend 30 years as a physicist’. As such it is fallacious. – gavin]

  10. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Re: Dr. Robert Brown

    What I am constantly amazed at is that some people who claim more than a passing interest in a particular subject can’t recognize obvious nonsense when it is presented to them in an extremely clear manner. Even worse, they actually expect others to swallow it without a moment’s thought. Astonishing.

  11. Steve Bloom:

    Here’s my favorite argument by authority:

    “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” — Max Planck

    I win.

    Note that it took Planck himself over thirty years to accept the implications of his own key discovery.

  12. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    I went over to WUWT to check out some things being said about the Younger Dryas and the newest impact paper, and I actually commented a few times, but I have to say, the comments section there is absolute nuttiness personified.

    It makes the old usenet days seem quaint.

  13. simon abingdon:

    #309 [gavin’s response] Some gentle words which start with the invitation “But maybe, possibly, perhaps you could entertain the notion that” and ends simply “D’ya think?” suddenly ceases to be an appeal to commonsense and becomes instead an argument from authority (“how dare we question”). Semantic decoke overdue.

    [Response: Gentle rhetoric does not change the content. I am perfectly happy to consider that Dr. Brown is not an idiot. But it still doesn’t make him right about everything he discusses. Many very intelligent and very experienced physicists have been wrong before (as, indeed, contrarians are very fond of saying). Thus his non-idiocy and experience are not determinative of whether his argument is fallacious or not. If I used that exact same language (which with only a few tweaks would apply equally to me), as a reason why my views should have primacy over others, it would be rightly scorned. Mainstream science is not correct because lots of non-idiotic and experienced people say it is, rather it is correct (for the most part) because it is literally demonstrably so (i.e. the results can be demonstrated). – gavin]

  14. Mertonian Norm:

    “We are coming up on a landmark–the 1000th Borehole post!”

    Ray, you seem excited about the Borehole, yet you have been unable to gain entry, despite numerous ill-tempered attempts. I know it’s showing off, but by way of advice from a veteran Borehole poster, here’s how:

    Write, “I don’t think Gavin is God.” Worse (better?) suggest he is a humorless Englishman who boreholes anything not to his taste, protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. If that doesn’t work, imply McIntyre not only gets things right every now and again, as you have done, but move beyond “even a blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while” and submit that the man has made a useful contribution to the debate. And make sure you use that word “debate” — there isn’t one, as we know. That failing, submit that you find the RealClimate orthodoxy disquieting, that you find the blog-meme, “Oh, wait, [insert snide comment about uncool outsider here]” tiresome. Oh, wait, that’s your routine, sorry. Say, that was fun… but I digress: back to phrases that pay. Hmm, you know, I would almost guarantee that a call for civility, decrying the use of such pejorative epithets as “alarmist” or “denier”, say, would get you in. Finally, though I’m loath to suggest such low-hanging fruit to a man of your considerable intellect, write, “DanH may have a point” even if you don’t think so. You may yet become entrant #1000, but you have to make the effort!

    (I’m assuming you’re checking on the ol’ Borehole for good homestretch stuff such as this entry. If today’s moderator is too chicken even to place it there, though, not to worry, I’ll send it you privately.)

  15. MARodger:

    simon abingdon @308
    I think I go further than the [Response: – gavin} @309 because I am always quite surprised by people who defend their crazy positions, not by defending their position, but by asserting “Hey, buddy! Nobody calls me an idiot!”
    They seem to forget there are people, like myself, who are happy to say “There is a simple solution to this, chum. Just call me ‘Nobody’.”

  16. Ray Ladbury:

    Simon Abingdon,
    If we were to take the benchmark for authority as a PhD in physics and 30 years practicing it, I would qualify as well as Dr. Brown. The difference is that I realize that I don’t–and I would wager that I’ve spent considerably more time doing the actual math of climate science than has Dr. Brown.

    If we are going to argue from authority, then why not take the National Academy of Sciences, the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union… You get the idea. Dr. Brown is one scientist. He has precisely 1 peer-reviewed publication in the past 6 years, and few in the decade before that. His web page has more philosophy and poetry than science these days. I would submit that he fits the classic definition of having gone emeritus.

    Simon, here’s a hint. When all the experts say you are wrong and you aren’t an expert–you’re probably wrong.

  17. Jim Larsen:

    “imply McIntyre not only gets things right every now and again, as you have done, but move beyond “even a blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while” and submit that the man has made a useful contribution to the debate.”

    Ah, if McI had never gotten into the climate debate….

    He’s uncovered a few mistakes. It seemed to me that those mistakes could have been left unfound without harm.

    So, does he advance climate science? I vote no. His primary positive function, causing others to spit-shine various bits and pieces, is pretty immaterial compared to the noise, interference, and distraction.

    If you had an employee who produced $1 an hour and also caused your top dozen employees’ productivity to drop by $100 an hour each, would you say that employee “contributed to the corporation”?

  18. Walter Pearce:

    @314…Mertonian Norm, I rarely visit the Borehole, but thanks for your illustrative sample.

  19. Steve Fish:

    Mertonian Norm — 25 Jun 2012 @ 4:20 PM — sets up a really fine straw man imaginary universe, and then razes it to the ground with his insightful rhetoric. I really appreciate people who provide such excellent bad examples. Steve

  20. Ray Ladbury:

    Simon Abingdon, Dr. Brown’s words are a classice Appeal to Authority fallacy. He is claiming that his training and experience in physics constitute special knowledge of climate science–a completely different and very specialized field.

    No one is claiming Dr. Brown is an idiot–merely that he is well outside his realm of expertise.

  21. Susan Anderson:

    Jim Larsen, you are a delight, full of logic and common sense.

    And Mertonian Norm, purveyor of laughter in a gloomy time.

    Thanks to those and others. Simon Abingdon is so dishonest with his syrup, it’s good to see solid logic in response.

  22. dbostrom:

    Lewis Page of the Register channels Steven Goddard, again:

    Antarctic ice shelves not melting at all, new field data show

    Many problems, no surprise.

    Will be interesting to watch this move through the food chain.

  23. Brian Dodge:

    Well, it should be obvious that Larsen A, Larsen B, and large areas of Wilkins ice shelf aren’t melting &;>). And I suppose that I should point out for readers not familiar with the science on Antarctic Ice shelves that the reason they aren’t melting is because they no longer exist, having collapsed and floated away like a slushy in a rainy gutter.

  24. Marco:

    Simon Abingdon should think a few minutes and in all earnest about the following questions:

    1. If Dr. Brown has something worthwile to say about climate change, where are his publications on the topic?
    It appears he claims special knowledge in the field, so he should have no problem getting a few papers out.

    2. If Dr. Brown has something worthwile to say about climate change, why is he doing so on WUWT?
    It’s not like that site gets the science wrong on occasions. Getting it wrong is pathological over there. Surely someone with such special knowledge like Dr. Brown should have no problem seeing that?

    That he believes the GHE is real just makes him in agreement with the vast, vast, vast majority of scientists, whether climate scientists or not. Even Fred Singer has disowned those who deny the GHE. It’s almost like we should be happy that someone calls flat-earthers “crazy” while that same person at the same time claims we have no real certainty that the earth revolves around the sun.

  25. Marco:

    A small P.S. to Gavin on McKitrick’s paper:
    If Mosher and Robin are right, you can add another issue on the list for McKitrick’s paper.

  26. Craig Nazor:

    A brief comment about Dr. Brown’s article on “WUWT,” since simon abingdon brought it up.

    A little over half-way through the comments, Anthony Watts posts about whether climate models “predict” or “project.” He then makes a decision about the question (the wrong one, in my opinion) and forbids further discussion. He ends with this statement: “Words convey meaning, and the meaning here is clear.”

    A very simple statement about the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global climate change might be: AGCC is a real, observable climate phenomena and is happening now, and if humans don’t begin to limit the release of greenhouses gasses into the atmosphere very soon, the results could quite likely do serious long-term damage to human civilization, as well as the earth’s ecosystems.

    Dr. Brown clearly denies at least some aspects of this consensus.

    “Deny: Refuse to admit the truth or existence of (something).”

    Deny is the English word that conveys the proper meaning here. But then Dr. Brown gets quite offended at being called a denier, and demands a printed apology.

    Whose problem is that? After all, words convey meaning, and the meaning here is clear. Dr. Brown needs to get over it.

  27. sue:

    Gavin: “The experimental design for these project was based on the need to sample a wide range of uncertainty – in models, forcings and observational data. The point is not to decide a priori which forcing reconstruction is correct and have everyone use that (since that is practically impossible), but rather to see whether we can explore what difference any of the reconstructions make so that we can assess whether any model/observations mismatch can be related to that (or to problems in the models, or in problems with the observations, or all of the above). So adding the Shaprio et al reconstruction to the possibilities was not a hard decision, despite my misgivings about there methodology. I will be astounded if using this gives the best match to observations, but it might be useful in bracketing ranges of behaviour. No external pressure required! – gavin]”


    “The last millennium provides a valuable opportunity to evaluate
    climate system models and to study the sensitivity of
    the climate system. Proxy-based reconstructions are available
    that have both high temporal resolution and widespread
    geographical coverage (e.g., Mann et al., 2009). The boundary
    conditions on the climate system over this period, including
    atmospheric trace gases, solar irradiance and volcanic
    emissions, are also reasonably well constrained (e.g.,
    Schmidt et al., 2011). The sensitivity of the climate system to
    different forcings can therefore be studied, and climate system
    models can be evaluated by forcing them with the known
    boundary conditions and then comparing the resulting simulations
    against the available proxy data.”

    It seems to me that introducing an ‘outlier’ solar simulation no longer is ‘well constrained’, but maybe I’m missing something… Trying to understand, really :)

    [Response: “reasonably” well-constrained is probably ok, but is a bit of a subjective statement. However, any simulations using Shapiro et al will be in addition to those done with the other reconstructions, so they can’t possibly affect comparisons between the observations and the other simulations. If people think it is a priori not credible – even as a sensitivity test they don’t need to use it. Note that these experiments are not ones where simply taking the multi-model average is going to be sensible. – gavin]

  28. simon abingdon:

    Well, quite a little storm blew up over my supposed appeal to the “argument from authority”.

    If those here had read more carefully they’d have seen that I was simply offering a little advice to MARodgers (#306) who had peremptorily (and without apparent justification) dismissed Dr Brown with “I refer to the same piece of WUWT nonsense” and “OK this Dr. Robert G. Brown writes 2,400 words. If he’d used less (200 would do), perhaps his silliness would be more obvious”.

    So was it a “classic” example of the argument from authority or just a suggestion that MARodgers might be a little out of his depth? You decide.

    And yet again I ask, has anybody here actually read what I originally referred to in #303, namely Robert Brown’s post of June 24 2012 at 10.30 pm on WUWT?


    [Response: More errors. “CO2 is saturated” – wrong (it is not). “The tropopause is set by CO2” – wrong (it is set by ozone). “The standard deviation for variations in MSU-TLT is the same as for SAT” – wrong (it is about 1.2 times larger). “The anthropogenic signal did not emerge out of the noise in the 1980s” – wrong (it did, pretty much as predicted by Hansen et al, 1981). etc. Your point? – gavin]

  29. simon abingdon:

    #326 Craig Nazor says:

    “A very simple statement about the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global climate change might be: AGCC is a real, observable climate phenomena and is happening now, and if humans don’t begin to limit the release of greenhouses gasses into the atmosphere very soon, the results could quite likely do serious long-term damage to human civilization, as well as the earth’s ecosystems”.

    I’m unhappy to accept the A in AGCC if for no other reason than escalating anthropogenic CO2 emissions not seeming to correlate with recently observed temperature changes. Some day soon the explanation that they’re masked by coincidentally compensating natural variability may begin to wear a bit thin. Or not. We shall see.

  30. MARodger:

    simon abingdon @328

    I feel I might have the measure of what you are on about. What you referred to @303 was “Robert Brown’s latest post” on WUWT without any hint as to its content. I’m thinking what it is you meant to refer to is but a humble “comment” by Robert Brown at WUWT namely –
    (Why you didn’t have the decency to link to it @303 I know not.)
    It would be good if you could confirm this reference. Brown is a verbose old duffer & the comment almost as wordy as that post of his which I found so nonsense-filled. Hey, I wouldn’t want to be wasting my time getting to grips with the wrong reference for a second time, especially given that you suggest I might be a little out of my depth and all!

  31. simon abingdon:

    #328 [gavin’s response] Thanks gavin for the subtle corrections and for the Hansen reference. [edit]

  32. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Some day soon the explanation that they’re masked by coincidentally compensating natural variability may begin to wear a bit thin.

    Anybody who cares to look can see that statement is utterly false – they are enhanced and masked by radiative forcings (soot, aerosols, etc) that are most definitely anthropogenic, and fortuitous thermal buffers (sea ice, ice sheets, deep ocean waters) that are rapidly responding to those forcings. To me you don’t seem informed or even amenable to actually informing yourself on these matters, yet you consider your opinions weighty enough to post.

  33. Ray Ladbury:

    Mertonian Norm,
    Actually, my first post here at RC was rejected. Reason: It was off topic. This of course predated the borehole.

    I have since endeavored to stay on topic–albeit with occasional feats of rhetorical gymnastics to get there–and so have avoided the borehole if only, sometimes, by the narrowest of margins.

    I would humbly suggest that the same might work for you.

    I suspect that it is your nature to look for common ground and compromise as a way forward. Unfortunately, this does not work in the current “debate”. The science, the evidence and the scientists are for all practical purposes on one side. To “compromise” with the anti-science types is merely to dilute the truth.

  34. Dan H.:

    Personally, I like Steve’s quote from Max Planck concerning appeal to authority. For some reason, this arises more often in climate discussions than any other. Recent statements about so many years in the field, or some consensus, are no substitutes for valid scientific work. Likewise, the argument about whether a forecast out to 2100 is a “projection” or a “prediction” may be entertaining, but offers little in resolving the whole climate issue. In another appeal to authority argument, it is amazing how often both extremes in the climate discussion refer to their opponents as “anti-science.”

    I don’t read WUWT, so I cannot comment on Dr. Brown’s article, but I find it rather intriguing that some people are so sure that someone else is wrong, that they refer to their work as nonsense.

    In the lower atmosphere, the main CO2 absorption band is saturated. However, that is not the case elsewhere in the atmosphere, of for other CO2 bands (or even the side absorption of the main band at 15 microns).

  35. SecularAnimist:

    simon abingdon wrote: “escalating anthropogenic CO2 emissions not seeming to correlate with recently observed temperature changes”

    With all due respect, you don’t know what you are talking about. And that’s why you are taken in by the likes of Dr. Brown’s falsehood-filled nonsense. It is really as simple as that.

  36. Mertonian Norm:

    Ray, thanks for your good sportsmanship about my jokes at your expense, though I am annoyed my good work was not placed in the Borehole where it belongs. I like to think I went out of my way to “otherwise disrupt sensible conversations”, but, alas, standards are slipping.

    You are right, though, it is very much my nature to look for common ground. I often read with amusement in the competing climate blogs, for instance, about “moving goal posts” as though moving them were a bad thing, rather than a human, face-saving concession to the other side. I do suspect that the truth, to the extent that it is knowable, will fall somewhere in the middle long after I’m gone. That or outside today’s parameters altogether. The history of science tells us with some certainty that the consensus won’t be where it is at the moment. In the meantime, I admire the efforts of those climate scientists who read the data to say: Watch Out, just as I admire those cranks and amateurs who read: Not So Fast. Not a good idea, to me, for either side be ruling the roost with impunity, and if the debate between them must be contentious rather than constructive, in the lab, so be it. As long as the science advances and is beaten about the head and shoulders along the way, that butters my biscuit.

    That you see the truth massed together in favor of AGCC is a sincere belief you have articulated passionately for years, and all power to you. I read what you write with interest, and I continue to seek out other articulate views as well.

  37. dbostrom:

    Reality strikes:

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington said Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency was “unambiguously correct” in using existing federal law to address global warming. The court denied two of the challenges, including one arguing the agency erred in concluding greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare.

    Federal Court Upholds EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Rules

    We’ll be electing the future Supreme Court this fall.

  38. capt. dallas:

    Ray Ladbury, “To “compromise” with the anti-science types is merely to dilute the truth.” Of course, but the physics is the truth. F=5.35*ln(Cf/Ci) is not a complete equation. Inside that 5.35 is a lot of physics and there are a lot of approaches that can be used to fine tune that equation.

    Take a simple heat engine, you have -1.9 to 0 for the cold reservoir limited by the heat of fusion and 240Wm-2 applied, the maximum efficiency is 50%, the refrigerant is salt water and the pressure is limited to atmospheric. How much can you determine from those constraints?

    Is that “anti-science” or is that physics? What temperature is the refrigerant limited to by atmospheric pressure? In steady state, what is the average work done? There is more to “science” than radiant physics.

  39. t_p_hamilton:

    Great example of double-talk:
    “In the lower atmosphere, the main CO2 absorption band is saturated. However, that is not the case elsewhere in the atmosphere, of for other CO2 bands (or even the side absorption of the main band at 15 microns).”

  40. Anon experimenter:

    Questions, for an informal test:

    I understand (caveat: not from reading it yet though) that the NRC’s recent study on sea level rise (link – released on Friday 6/22, and not visible on their home page at present) did not address any possible contribution (to measured sea level rise) of any reduction in ocean basin depth due to underwater volcanic eruptions or other such processes. If you wanted to explore this possible contribution, how would you do so? Do you know if it’s been measured, & if not, why not? How would you reason about this possible contribution? (yes this latter Q is pretty general, but I’m curious.)

  41. simon abingdon:

    #335 SecularAnimist says “With all due respect, you don’t know what you are talking about. And that’s why you are taken in by the likes of Dr. Brown’s falsehood-filled nonsense. It is really as simple as that”.

    Well he seemed to know what he was talking about, but now you’ve explained it to me properly I realize I must have misjudged him.

  42. dbostrom:

    DC US District Court of Appeals gets it:

    “State and Industry Petitioners assert that EPA improperly“delegated” its judgment to the IPCC, USGCRP, and NRC by relying on these assessments of climate-change science. See U.S. Telecom Ass’n v. FCC, 359 F.3d 554, 566 (D.C. Cir. 2004). This argument is little more than a semantic trick. EPA did not delegate, explicitly or otherwise, any decision-making to any of those se entities. EPA simply did here what it and other decisionmakers often must do to make a science-based judgment: it sought out and reviewed existing scientific evidence to determine whether a particular finding was warranted. It makes no difference that much of the scientific evidence in large part consisted of “syntheses” of individual studies and research. Even individual studies and research papers often synthesize past work in an area and then build upon it. This is how science works. EPA is not required to re-prove the existence of the atom every time it approaches a scientific question.”

    Court opinion

  43. flxible:

    dbostrom: We’ll be electing the future Supreme Court this fall.
    Well, someone will be.
    [Captch sez: theGeop congress]

  44. dbostrom:

    Anon experimenter says: How would you reason about this possible contribution?

    Let’s build a jackalope together.

    A complete naif such as you or I could begin by reasoning that the volume of the “solid” Earth is relatively constant on the time scale of interest failing addition of significant volume via unknown means, thermal expansion (radioactive decay outburst?), or (??). Knowing that, you could then reason that a significant reduction of the ocean basin volume would need a volume reduction drawn from somewhere dry, namely the bits of Earth sticking up above the ocean, a large reduction happening very quickly on the geologic time scale.

    So we can conclude that the horns to be attached to the jackrabbit will be found where continents are vanishing.

  45. Radge Havers:


    Argument from over-generalized platitudes is not helpful. You do not understand the situation or the history of science. All you hear is a squabble, and you are completely deaf to content and context.

    But OK, let’s say you hear a squabble in the next room. You have a mission and an ideology! You burst into the room and it turns out to be an o.r. Doctors are yelling at a gang of nuts who are trying to interfere with an operation and insisting that waving unsanitary, dead chickens around the operating table will fix every thing. Do you:

    A) Stamp your feet and insist that the nuts sound reasonable and are just misunderstood–everybody just needs to grab some gimp and make lanyards?

    B) Admit you don’t know what’s going on and but out?

    C) Get all weepy at the noise and run to Oprah?

    D) Or do you pitch in, make yourself useful, and help throw the vandals the frack out of there?

  46. Radge Havers:


    “Well he seemed to know what he was talking about…”

    So what.

    Playing “let’s you and him fight” will not enlighten you, especially if you are not willing to expend any effort of your own on thinking things through. But I guess they don’t teach the fundamentals of critical thinking in airplane school…

  47. simon abingdon:

    #332 Thomas Lee Elifritz says:

    “they are enhanced and masked by radiative forcings (soot, aerosols, etc)”

    Obviously the concept of enhancing/masking provides considerable explanatory power, but can I ask if your “etc” includes anthropogenically consequential clouds? I think I may have sensed a general acceptance that this area may need more research.

    You say of me “you consider your opinions weighty enough to post”. If my questions sometimes seem to reflect a bias of opinion then I’m sorry. But I do generally try hard to remain objective and disinterested. Thank you for the exchange.

  48. Hank Roberts:

    > he seemed to know what he was talking about

    “Things are seldom what they seem,
    Skim milk masquerades as cream ….”

    — Gilbert and Sullivan

  49. dbostrom:

    flxible says: Well, someone will be.

    I stick w/same as global warming: “it’s us.” Choose wisely and remember that doing nothing is also choosing.

  50. Unsettled Scientist:

    >In another appeal to authority argument, it is amazing how often both extremes in the climate discussion refer to their opponents as “anti-science.”

    I’m not sure extremists calling each other names is an appeal to authority argument. To the point about “anti-science” extremists- that’s why we’re all here, right? Gavin, David, Eric and all the RC contributors are mainstream working scientists, and not on either wing of the climate discussion. Unless the extreme wings are real science and popular news media, but I generally look at those as different discussions. In science we use evidence and reason. In media it is polemics and innuendo. RealClimate is where real working mainstream scientists address the polemics and innuendo of the media. The less we pay attention to polemicists like Delingpole and more to reasonable scientists like the RC contributors, the better informed we’ll be on the state of the science. If anyone is calling the RC contributors anti-science, well, it should be obvious what to think.